Among the fresh faces who made their mark last Ramadan on the small screen is up-and-coming actor and musician Hassan Abouelrouss, who took part in the comedy series Be 100 Wesh (A Hundred Faces) starring Nelly Karim and Asser Yassin. Playing a member of Karim and Yassin’s charming band of thieves who stole our hearts and had us rooting for them, Abouelrouss proved that he is a talented comic with a lot of charisma. eniGma’s Ezz Al-Turkey sat with the funny man to hear all about his journey to fame and find out what his plans for the future are…
When I met Hassan Abouelrouss at his advertising agency in Maadi, I was surprised to see that both his arms were in casts. “I got into a rough fight with a couch!” he explained with a smile, adding, “I really want to get rid of that couch! It injured my two arms as I carried it from the car to my office.” The couch seems to have had the last word, however, as it sat comfortably in his renovated office.
Abouelrouss was proud to have been the class clown all through his 12 years in school, making faces, cracking jokes and impersonating both his favourite and least favourite teachers. Although it often got him in trouble, the young boy was shameless, feeling that the punchline was always worth the consequences. If a teacher walked in as he impersonated him, then so be it—at least he had made his classmates laugh. After he finished school, he carried his comic energy to the American University in Cairo, where he studied architecture, theatre and music, and later to UCLA, where he studied theatre.
Abouelrouss, who is a musician and an actor, started writing music as a young kid, singing about random subjects like his favourite teachers, classes, etc. In 2007, before it was a thing for a video to go viral, Abouelrouss released his first hit—Kol Youm Gama’a (Every College Day) and the music video went viral on YouTube. The song spread like wildfire throughout campuses all over Egypt, making Abouelrouss a favourite opening act for popular artists like Amr diab and others.
Shortly after his first hit, Abouelrouss started a band which mixed rock & roll with fun lyrics, which he aptly called Rock & LOL. “We used to play without pay at a lot of weddings. Then, slowly but surely, we went on to become one of the most in-demand bands for weddings in Egypt. While we were still beginners, our passion was evident and we became very popular. Our band was even recognised at a wedding festival. Eventually, however, we all separated and each one of us started doing their own thing. They were the rock and I was the LOL,” he jokes. While on his own, Abouelrouss created some more sarcastic, yet heartfelt, songs like, Colognia A’al Garh (Cologne on the Wound) and Ya Negm Ya Star, a tune dedicated to football superstar Mohamed Salah.
After years of trying to make it big, Abouelrouss finally got his big break with Be 100 Wesh, one of the most watched and talked about TV shows of Ramadan 2020. It all started at a simple karaoke night, where he impressed superstar Karim. “Ramy El Sokary invited me to a sohour where people from different fields were invited, and Nelly was there. I decided to sing Kol El Banat Bethebak (All Girls Love You) and I pulled Nelly out of her chair to sing with me. She was kind of surprised by that, but she was impressed. She took my number and promised to call if she found a role that would fit me. About six months later, I got the call from her about Be 100 Wesh, and the rest is history,” recounts Abouelrouss. When he went on to audition with iconic director Kamla Abou Zekry, she put his skills to the test by having him write his own script for his scenes. “My audition with Kamla was supposed to be five minutes long, but we ended up spending two hours together. Eventually she picked me. I’m forever grateful to her for this opportunity, as well as to Nelly, of course,” he adds.
The show itself took TV viewers by surprise. Its light-hearted vibe attracted people of all ages, with everyone picking their own favourite character from among this unlikely band of funny criminals. Aside from the great writing and the witty humour of the show, it was clearly the ensemble cast that made it so special. “The entire cast is very talented, very sociable and extraordinarily hilarious. They are also all extremely respectful to each other. Even though there were some big stars on the show, they were all very delightful to work with. No one had a big ego or tried to outshine anyone else. We all worked together and helped each other,” Abouelrouss exclaims.
Besides his love of comedy, Abouelrouss is also passionate about directing. Not surprisingly, a good part of his work at his advertising agency involves directing and producing commercials. He was also tasked with the direction of the music video for the hit theme song of the show, Millionaire, which can be heard bursting through car speakers all over Cairo’s busy streets.
Looking towards the future, the bubbly comedian seems to have several things in the works. “It’s all about entertainment for me, says Abouelrouss, adding, “I love what I do so much. Currently, I’m shooting a music video for my song Chicalastic, directed by the incredible Ghada Waly. Expect a lot of crazy stuff from me soon, like—really crazy!”